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There are about a million and a half broccoli cheese soup recipes out there. You may be wondering why you need me to tell you how to make broccoli cheese soup. Well, the recipes I’ve seen tend to use flour as a thickener, have a long list of ingredients, or just take a while to prepare. Today I’m sharing my quick and simple version of easy broccoli cheese soup (also called homemade broccoli cheddar soup). You can make it in only 20 minutes — perfect for busy weeknights!
(It also happens to be a keto broccoli cheese soup with clean ingredients, too, but is just as delicious if none of that matters to you.)
I’ve had this easy broccoli cheese soup recipe on Wholesome Yum since 2016. It was one of the first recipes I created! It has not only became a staple at our house — it’s gone from my kids eating it pureed as babies to enjoying it now in school — but has also been one of the most popular with readers. After making it dozens of times, I’ve updated it and included lots of tips to help you make it the best broccoli cheese soup ever.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe
- Rich, cheesy flavor
- Perfectly tender broccoli
- Thick and creamy without any thickeners or roux
- Just 5 simple (and clean!) ingredients
- Ready in 20 minutes
- Naturally low carb and gluten-free, with vegetarian option
- Tastes better than Panera!
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best broccoli cheese soup ingredients, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Broccoli – This is the obvious ingredient in all broccoli cheese soup recipes, though I’ve made a cheesy cauliflower soup using similar ingredients as well. I prefer the texture of mainly florets, but broccoli stems or even roasted broccolini work just fine. Use fresh broccoli for the best texture (chop it into bite-size pieces), though frozen works as well. Frozen broccoli is usually pre-blanched, so it might cook a little quicker once it thaws in the soup (go ahead and toss it in frozen!).
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic gives the best flavor, but you can use the kind in a jar for convenience. I didn’t list oil or butter in the ingredients because everyone has it, but you may want to add some when sauteing the garlic.
- Cream – I used heavy whipping cream because it gives the richest taste and makes the thickest broccoli cheese soup, because it reduces well when you simmer it. (It’s also less prone to curdling.) But you can also use half and half or even milk — the result will just be a bit thinner, and you’ll have to watch the heat to avoid curdling.
- Broth – I prefer the flavor of chicken broth in this broccoli cheddar soup recipe, but you can also use bone broth (for extra nutrition), chicken stock, or vegetable broth (to keep it vegetarian). I recommend a reduced-sodium broth, because otherwise the soup can turn out too salty.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese – Of course you need cheddar for a broccoli cheddar soup recipe, but technically other cheeses that melt well would also work. I prefer sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor. The recipe works best with pre-shredded cheese that comes in a bag, because those are less prone to clumping. Believe it or not, the thickener in this soup is simply cheese. No flour, starches, or artificial thickeners are necessary — and that makes this one top my list when it comes to broccoli and cheese soup recipes.
To be fair, this makes a very basic broccoli soup recipe. The ingredients and flavors are not complex. This is intentional! I wanted to keep it simple so that it’s very accessible to just about anyone. If you want to change it up, see my tips below on what to add to broccoli cheddar soup.
How To Make Broccoli Cheese Soup
This section shows how to make broccoli cheddar soup, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
Cook it in a large pot or Dutch oven. It takes about 45-60 seconds, until fragrant. I typically add a little oil or butter here as needed.
Add Broth, Cream, And Broccoli
Add the chicken broth, heavy cream, and chopped broccoli, and simmer until the broccoli is tender, about 10-20 minutes.
TIP: The simmer time will vary depending on the size of your florets.
Smaller florets = faster simmer time.
Make It Thick & Cheesy
Do you like your broccoli soup super smooth or with chunks of broccoli? You actually have 3 options here to finish it off:
- Pieces – Leave all the broccoli florets whole in your broccoli cheese soup. To do this, add the shredded cheddar cheese gradually, stirring constantly, and continue to stir until melted. This will help thicken the broccoli and cheese soup. (See tips below to avoid clumping.)
- Pureed – Pureeing is an excellent way to get a thicker soup, if that’s what you like, because the broccoli thickens it. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender.
- Combination – Puree the soup, but reserve 1/3 as florets. It’s the best of both worlds! To do this, remove about 1/3 of the florets using a slotted spoon, blend using an immersion blender, then return the florets to the pot. (You can also adjust how much of the broccoli you want to puree — the more broccoli you puree, the thicker your broccoli soup will be.)
Tips For The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup
I’m thrilled that so many of you are making this easy broccoli cheese soup recipe! But to avoid clumping and get the proper thickness, read these tips for best results:
- Make sure the temperature is not too hot. This is super important! The heat should be very low when adding the cheese. If it’s too hot, the cheese can seize and clump.
- The broccoli florets should be small. The cheese tends to stick to larger pieces more.
- Use pre-shredded cheese OR add a de-clumping agent. This recipe for broccoli cheddar soup works best with pre-shredded cheese that comes in a bag. If you shred a block of cheese yourself, or if your shredded cheese already seems clumpy to begin with, toss it with a little cornstarch or arrowroot powder (which is a cornstarch substitute), before adding to the soup.
- Add only a little cheese at a time. If you dump all the cheese in at once, it will clump more.
- Stir, stir, stir! Keep stirring as you add the cheese.
- Backup plan #1: Puree it! If all else fails, just throw the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender).
- The #1 recommended way: Remove the broccoli first and then puree! Thank you to a reader for suggesting this. If you’d like, you can scoop out the broccoli florets before adding the cheese and set them aside. A large slotted spoon works best for this. Melt in the cheese, then add the broccoli back in afterward. In fact, this is now my preferred method!
Ways To Thicken Broccoli Cheddar Soup
The cheese does thicken this broccoli cheese soup well enough for me. And the flavor is just perfect. That being said, I know that some people like a really, really thick broccoli cheddar soup. Here are some options:
- Add more cheese. The more cheese you add, the thicker your broccoli and cheese soup will be! This is the easiest option, but keep in mind it still won’t be as thick as using an actual thickener.
- Add cream cheese. Melt in some cream cheese (in small chunks) to help it thicken.
- Puree it, as described above. This is my preferred method. Simply pour some or all of the cheesy broccoli soup into a blender or food processor after cooking. It will get thicker from the broccoli itself.
- Use a starch thickener. These would be arrowroot powder, cornstarch, or a cornstarch substitute. If you are okay with it, tossing the shredded cheese in one of these before adding to the soup will help it melt better and thicken better.
- Add a low carb thickener. These would be thickeners like xanthan gum or glucomannan. Start by whisking a bit of the powder (maybe just 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp) with some water (or broth from the soup before adding cheese), then whisk the mixture into the soup at the end.
- Simmer it. You’ll notice this broccoli and cheese soup recipe contains heavy cream, which reduces when you simmer it enough. (For example, this is the secret for making alfredo sauce.) So, sometimes all the soup needs is to simmer for longer.
Once you’ve mastered the basic process, it’s so easy to customize this easy broccoli cheese soup recipe. Try adding:
- Your favorite spices – My fave is Italian seasoning! Some fresh cracked black pepper is also delicious.
- Other veggies – Saute onions (yellow onion works well) together with the garlic, or add cauliflower, carrots, or bell peppers later on (see tips below). Like my vegetable soup, you can add just about any vegetable you like.
- Shredded chicken
- Cooked bacon
- Sun-dried tomatoes
Tips For Making Additions:
- Go easy on anything that has added salt, like bacon. This broccoli cheese soup is already salty to begin with, due to the cheese and broth.
- Add any other ingredients after the cheese melts first. Otherwise, the cheese might stick to the add-ins and have issues melting.
- If your other add-ins need to cook, temporarily remove them with a slotted spoon once they are cooked, melt in the cheese, and then return them to the pot.
- Store: Broccoli cheese soup stores well in the fridge for about 5 days.
- Reheat: Warm up the soup on the stove top over low heat, or in the microwave on medium to low power. Sometimes it separates a bit after a while, but usually comes back together after you reheat while stirring frequently. If that doesn’t help, you can also puree it in a blender – this will bring it back together.
Can You Freeze Broccoli Cheese Soup?
Yes, you can freeze this healthy broccoli cheese soup! Simply let it cool to room temperature, then freeze flat in freezer bags or in a freezer safe container. Thaw it in the fridge completely the night before using. Then, you can cook it over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent curdling, or puree after heating if needed.
What To Serve With Broccoli Cheese Soup
There are many options, but I find that Italian flavors work very well in particular. Here are some recipes to add to your meal with broccoli and cheese soup:
- Simple proteins like healthy baked chicken breast, tender sirloin steak, or buttery pan seared salmon.
- Veggie side dishes like quick roasted asparagus, creamy mashed cauliflower, or oven roasted brussels sprouts
- Healthy salads like Caprese salad, classic BLT salad, or my family fave, Big Mac cheeseburger salad
- Keto garlic breadsticks from the Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook – you’ll also find a version of this easy broccoli cheese soup recipe in the book! Of course regular breadsticks work as well if that fits your lifestyle.
More Easy Soup Recipes
If you like this broccoli cheddar soup recipe, you’ll also love these other easy soup recipes:
Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe (5 Ingredients!)
Learn how to make the best broccoli cheddar soup in 20 minutes! This easy broccoli cheese soup recipe is rich, creamy and just 5 ingredients.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Add the chicken broth, heavy cream, and chopped broccoli. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until broccoli is tender.
Option 1 (original recipe):
Add the shredded cheddar cheese gradually, stirring constantly, and continue to stir until melted. (Add 1/2 cup (64 g), simmer and stir until it melts fully, then repeat 1/2 cup (64 g) at a time until all the cheese is used up.) Make sure to keep it at a very low simmer and avoid high heat, to prevent seizing. Remove from heat immediately once all the cheese melts.
Option 2 (recommended):
Use a slotted spoon to remove about 1/3 of the broccoli pieces and set aside. (This step is optional, if you want some pieces in your soup at the end. If you want all of the soup pureed, you can leave them in.)
Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining broccoli.
Reduce heat to low. Add the shredded cheddar cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, and continue to stir until melted. Puree again to make it smooth.
Remove from heat. Add the reserved broccoli florets back to the soup.
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Serving size: 1 cup
IMPORTANT: See my tips in the post above for best results when melting the cheese!
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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